Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Best Policy?

Sometimes being honest is quite the challenge.

I should know this already, as my tendency to be honest actually has gotten me into trouble in the past. In fact, it caused a whole bunch of drama about three years ago, but that's another story. (For the record, I stand by my choice to be upfront and honest in that situation.)

Anyway, this particular tale involves money. A major, upscale department store, which shall remain nameless so as not to embarrass anyone, seems to think I have a credit on my charge card bill, when, in fact, I owe them money. It's kind of complicated and not exactly an exciting story, but it boils down to a swim suit I bought for my recent trip to Hawaii. The suit is quite lovely, and I wore it very well in Waikiki. For reasons of pre-sales and gift cards, I ended up getting said swim suit for just $45.26, down from $96. Yay! However, due to a mistake made during the convoluted sequence of pre-sale charging, returning and re-charging to accommodate my gift cards, the store has not only forgiven my actual debt but has credited me $43.28.

Now, I imagine many people would just take the credit and run. I believe this because I was tempted to do that, myself. After all, it wasn't my mistake; I got my bill and trusted it to be accurate. However, in the end (or at the beginning, I perhaps should say), I decided that I should be honest and not allow this store to pay me for donning a new swim suit on a Hawaiian beach.

The first thing I did was call the 1-800 number on my bill. I carefully (and charismatically, if I do say so, myself) explained the situation to the agent who answered the phone. She understood where the mistake had been made but didn't know how to fix it. After thanking me for my honesty, she put me on hold so she could ask her supervisor what to do. When she returned to the line, she told me that there was nothing that could be done at billing headquarters since apparently, this was a mistake made at the store. So I'd have to go there and clear everything up in person.

I bet at this point you're hoping I just decided to take the credit. Nope, no such luck.

This afternoon (my last weekday off before my work schedule changes, by the way), I trotted over to the upscale department store to explain the error. It didn't go quite so well this time. A tiny language barrier forced much repetition of my story, and the customer service rep still thought I was trying to tell him I should have a bigger credit. When I finally was able to explain clearly that I actually owe the store money and would like to pay it, he told me not to.

Not yet, anyway.

In this man's opinion, it is "likely" that the error will correct itself. How, I'm not sure, and I don't think he knows, either. Regardless, I am to wait through another billing cycle, and if I still have a credit, I can come back to the store and have it fixed. He did tell me he'd never had a customer come to his desk to correct a billing mistake made in her favor. I guess he'll tell me that again if/when he sees me in 30 days.

Being honest certainly can require of degree of tenacity. And it can give you a headache.

1 comment:

Michael B said...

girl! you did your bit. go buy yourself something frilly, forgawdsake.